08TBILISI757, STATUS OF TOPURIA, OKRUASHVILI, AND BATIASHVILI

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI757 2008-05-06 14:17 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO6449
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBW RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #0757/01 1271417
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061417Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9410
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000757 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: STATUS OF TOPURIA, OKRUASHVILI, AND BATIASHVILI 
TRIALS 
 
REF: A. 2007 TBILISI 2484 
     B. TBILISI 385 
     C. TBILISI 141 
 
1.  (SBU)  Summary:  On April 29 the Tbilisi Appellate court 
announced that it upholds the guilty verdicts for the 
thirteen defendants tried in the Giorgadze treason cases. 
The announcement generated little public or media attention. 
On April 23, Georgian media announced that France granted 
asylum to Irakli Okruashvili although France has made no 
decision yet regarding his extradition.  Okruashvili was 
tried in Tbilisi in absentia and on March 28 the Tbilisi City 
court found him guilty of large scale extortion and sentenced 
him to 11 years imprisonment.  Article 42, an NGO whose 
lawyers represent accused in the European Human Rights Court 
(ECHR), announced on April 21 that Irakli Batiashvili's case 
would go forward to the ECHR and he will be represented by an 
international team to include lawyers from the U.K. 
Batiashvili was pardoned on January 11, 2008.  Currently, he 
is running in Tbilisi's Nadzaladevi District on the 
Republican ticket during the May 21 Parliamentary elections. 
End Summary. 
 
Giorgadze Defendants' Sentences Stand 
------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU)  On April 29 the Tbilisi Appellate court announced 
that it would uphold the finding of guilty passed by the 
first instance court with regard to the defendants in the 
Giorgadze case.  Maia Topuria, the niece of Giorgadze, was 
one of the thirteen defendants involved in the appeal 
process.  The appeal hearing started nearly six weeks ago and 
was sparsely attended by family and friends and OSCE Human 
Rights representatives.  Notably absent was press, although 
the court was also open to press.  Observers present at the 
hearing said that Topuria's lawyers intend to appeal to the 
Supreme Court.  Pending the Supreme Court appeal, which does 
not involve a hearing, but rather a paperwork review, the 
next step would be to appeal the case to the European Court 
of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.  The average wait time 
for cases at the ECHR is three to five years.  Topuria and 
the other twelve defendants were found guilty of treason and 
sentenced to imprisonment in August 2007 (reftel A). 
 
Okruashvili--France Grants Asylum 
----------------------------------- 
 
3.  (SBU) Georgian media reported on April 23 that Irakli 
Okruashvili was granted asylum in France, but the French 
court has yet to make a decision about his extradition. 
Those watching the case speculate that he will not be 
extradited back to Georgia because it would bad publicity for 
the current administration in the middle of the Parliamentary 
election campaign.  Okruashvili was tried in absentia and 
found guilty of large-scale extortion on March 28 in Tbilisi 
and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.  His party, part of 
the United Opposition Council, continues to run in the 
Parliamentary Elections.  Okruashvili was last in the public 
eye on March 6, in a live broadcast from Paris, where he was 
very critical of the government's actions regarding Abkhazia 
(reftel B). 
 
Batiashvili--Off to the ECHR 
---------------------------- 
 
4.  (SBU)   NGO Article 42 announced on April 21 that 
Batiashvili's case, which was filed with the ECHR while he 
was still imprisoned last year, will go forward.  His counsel 
will be an eclectic group made up of Georgian and 
international lawyers, including counsel from the U.K. 
Batiashvili who was arrested in 2006, and released by a 
Presidential pardon on January 11, 2008, has steadfastly 
denied his guilt, saying he never requested a pardon. 
According to Batiashvili's lawyer, Natia Katsitadze, the 
implications of a pardon imply guilt according to Georgian 
National Criminal Law and the Presidential Decree which 
grants the pardon.  Lawyers for Batiashvili point out that 
only by going to the ECHR can the mark of guilt be 
permanently erased from his case file.  The Supreme Court did 
review the Batiashvili case on January 28, 2008, but 
suspended the case without issuing any finding.  On another 
note, a finding from the ECHR in Batiashvili's favor could 
open the door to monetary compensation for wrongful 
imprisonment (reftel C). 
 
Comment 
-------- 
 
5.  (SBU)  Post reported incorrectly (ref C) in January that 
 
TBILISI 00000757  002 OF 002 
 
 
Batiashvili was granted amnesty.  In fact, he was pardoned. 
TEFFT

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